Seven of the last thirteen games between the two programs has been decided by seven points or less.
Whether it’s maximum effort, fundamental football, or hard-nosed defense, the Iowa and Northwestern football programs share many similar philosphies.
“You know, that’s what Iowa football is about. Smart, tough and physical football. I feel like Northwestern brings the same thing to the table,” said junior running back Mekhi Sargent.
“I think there are a lot of parallels,” head coach Kirk Ferentz agreed. “I hope that’s a compliment towards us in that to me I look across, I watch them, they don’t beat themselves. That’s the first thing you have to do in football.”
“Just the way they’re coached,” added senior quarterback Nate Stanley. “They do a good job and take care of their responsibilities and take advantage of the opportunities that are out on the field for them. So I think that’s one of the reason why these are always close games.”
Some of the Hawkeyes say the teams’ similarities on defense have contributed to these close games over the years.
“Kind of like a mirror image to our defense,” said senior offensive lineman Landan Paulsen. “You know, they’re gonna come downhill and hit you. They’re sound and they’re tough and they’re physical and all of those things.”
Northwestern doesn’t have the public perception of being a tough, physical football team like Iowa, but they do have the results. Both teams have a virtually identical record since 2011.
“The bottom line is that they have an identity and I think that’s a by-product of their stability in the program,” said Ferentz. “I would hope people would say we look like each other. Pat and I don’t look like each other. We’re not like each other as players. He won awards.”
A win on Saturday would end the Hawkeyes’ three-game losing streak to the Wildcats. A loss, however, would make some dubious history as Iowa has not lost four-straight games to Northwestern in nearly 90 years.